Wendy Lord Freelance Health Writer & Dietitian

Blog: The Dietician's Plate

Are Calorie Counting Apps Useful For Weight Loss?

Calorie counting for weight loss

Do you know how many calories you need to eat in order to lose weight and maintain your weight loss? How did you come to that number? Did you use a calorie counter app? Search on Google? Or have you consulted with a dietitian?

The age-old weight loss equation states that the number of calories you eat must be less than the amount of energy you burn during the day if your goal is to shed a few extra kilograms. Does that mean you need to start keeping track of your calorie intake? Is it really useful, or is it a bit old fashioned?

Weight loss is complicated

The majority of people who consult with me, book their appointment hoping that I have the answer to their weight loss struggles. I will spend a lot of time with them chatting about their medical history and diets they have tried in the years preceding their visit to my office. Everyone has a story to tell. And many of you have been fighting the weight loss battle for years.

Once I have gathered all the information I need to create a personalised diet plan for you, I send you on your way so that I can do some calculations. I need to figure out how many calories you should be eating to achieve your weight loss goals. But, the weight loss equation is too simple. Every single person burns energy from food so that they can live and complete all the tasks they need to get done in the day. But, not every body burns the same amount in the same period of time.

factors to consider for weight loss
While calories are an important consideration, it is essential that other factors that have an impact on your metabolism are taken into consideration. These factors are numerous; here are the most common:
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Physical activity
  • Body composition
  • Hormone levels
  • Health conditions
  • Medication
  • Supplements

There are plenty of people who can use the average recommended calorie intake for weight loss. They will make a few changes to their diet and start losing weight straight away. But others will try and try and try again. They really battle to lose weight.

How many calories should you eat if you want to lose weight?

Unfortunately the answer is not simple. Everyone is an individual and your personal circumstances should be taken into consideration. Everything from your preferred meal pattern, your food preferences, your family situation, and the amount of time you have for shopping, meal planning, cooking and exercise need to be taken into account.

If you are looking for averages:
It is recommended that women consume about 1500 Cal (6300 kJ) per day to lose between 0.5 kg and 1 kg per week.
Men would need to reduce their calorie intake to about 2000 Cal (8400 kJ) per day to lose weight.

Use the calorie calculator below to help you figure out how much you should be eating.

Ask a dietitian

You can lose weight on your own. Millions of people around the world have done it or are busy doing it. But there is no shame in asking for a little guidance from a professional. A dietitian can point you in the right direction, give you the support you need and help pick you up when the going gets tough.

Dietitians recognize that everyone is different. We know that although we are all human beings, our bodies don't all behave in the same way. There is no single diet that is a perfect fit for every person. Although the number of calories you should eat in a day provide the ground work for a diet plan, they are not the be all and end all. You can lose weight and gain health without counting calories by being mindful of what and why you eat.

But, if you are a numbers person, and counting calories helps you stay on track, you can consider using apps such as:
Calorie counter app

The accuracy of calorie countering apps

Even as a dietitian who is practiced in estimating food portions, tracking my food intake with a calorie counter app can be tricky and frustrating - especially in the beginning. Once you get into it, and have figured out how the search function works, and you have measured your portions for at least some of your meals, it becomes a whole lot quicker and easier. And your results become more accurate.

The accuracy of your calorie and macronutrient totals lies in your hands. As long as the app developers have used reputable sources for their nutrition information, your input is what counts. For it to be an effective tool, you need to record everything you eat, and your portion sizes need to be as accurate as possible.

I do recommend calorie counter apps to some of my patients. But it is not my go-to for everyone. It can be an extremely useful tool when someone needs to come to grips with exactly how much they are over - or under - eating. But it can be a stressful addition to an already busy day.

If your calorie counter is making your head spin, drop me an email. Let me plan a diet for you that works… for YOU!

Yours in healthy weight loss

Wendy Signature

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